Tuesday 30 June 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday: 30 June 2009

Yesterday I read an article from Writer’s Digest magazine on how to hook readers with a strong beginning.

I have been working diligently on my draft WIPs of dark fantasy the last couple of days and wrote these sentences (the location is in mountainous terrain):

“Just as he was pondering his decision of an alternative path, a small herd of wild goats: a type of ibex, came face to face with him. The ram, of advanced age, carried a pair of curled, back pointing horns. He smiled as the flock of brown and black goats took to the high ground, bounding up the second path that led into the crags above, toward the linking pass. Then his decision decided for him, he turned to follow.

"Without warning the animals stopped, hesitated momentarily before wheeling where they stood and stampeded in his direction. "

For other participants, please visit Women of Mystery.

Friday 26 June 2009

Bench of the Week (10)

This bench is located at Belcarra Bay on a side inlet of Burrard Inlet within Metro Vancouver, British Columbia. Click to enlarge photo. I chose this photo for its shade as Toronto has had hot and humid weather the past couple of days. Sitting on a bench underneath beautiful trees and looking out to the water would be quite refreshing.

RuneE of Visual Norway began this informal meme.
Gerald from Ackworth Born has participated today.
PERBS from For the Love of Benches .
Pacey from My Todays
Phoenix from Sylvan Muse

Photo Credit: Junnn CC=nc-sa-flickr. Click to enlarge the photo.

Thursday 25 June 2009

Hiking Trails - Sawback Trail - Day 6

[47-Badger Pass Junction campground]

The Sawback Trail follows the rugged Sawback Range from the town of Banff to Lake Louise over a distance of 74km (about 45 miles). There are side trails to be discovered which would increase the distance.

On Day 6 the hike will be going for a side trip to Badgers Pass (2,545m) covering a distance one way of 5.5 km after leaving the Badger Pass Junction Campground (Jo29) at the 43.5 km mark. Care should be taken when the days are windy.

[48-Badger Pass Junction and campground necessity]

[49-Trail to Badger Pass - click to enlarge]


[51-click to enlarge]

[52-Badger Pass Junction camprground - leaving]

[53- Indian Paintbrush]

Badger Pass is reached after 5km on a trail that steadily climbs leading to remote wilderness and the headwaters of the Cascade River. It is one of the highest hiking passes in Banff National Park.

[54-Going up Badger Pass -click to enlarge]

The trail crosses over the creek that drains the western slope through forests and meadows.

[55-Up Badger Pass - click to enlarge]

[56 - Click to enlarge]

[57 - Up to Badger Pass - click to enlarge]


[59- Click to enlarge]

[60-Badgers Pass - click to enlarge]

[61-Badgers Pass - click to enlarge]

[62- Badgers Pass looking west - click to enlarge]

[63-click to enlarge]


[65-click to enlarge]

Bonnet Peak (3234m) is to the north of the pass and next to it is the Bonnet Icefield.

[66-Bonnet Glacier - click to enlarge]

ParksCanada – Banff [http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ17a_E.asp]
Backcountry Overview [http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ17_e.asp]
Trail Conditions [http://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/tcond/cond_e.asp?oPark=100092]
Backpacking Equipment Checklist [http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ10_e.asp]
Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton, Bart Robinson, 2007, pp.49
Gem Trek maps for Lake Louise and Skoki [http://www.gemtrek.com/lakelouise.html]
Gem Trek maps for Banff and Mount Assiniboine [http://www.gemtrek.com/banffassiniboine.html]
HI Hostels Intl Survival Guide http://www.hihostels.ca/docs/hipm/Fall2007.pdf

Photo Credits: [47][48][52][54][59][60][61][62][63]-lafalott CC=nc-sa-flickr, [49][51]-Kris Griffon CC=nc-sa-flickr, [50][55][56][57][64][65]-meganpru CC=nc-flickr, [53]-Withrow CC=nc-flickr, [58]-pat_pelletier (busy) CC=nc-nd-flickr, [66]-mikewarren CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday: 23 June 2009

My reading has continued with "A Toss of the Lemon" by Padma Viswanathan, for a future book review. The astrologer, Hanumarathan, has recently married and is opening up an unused house he inherited from his parents. Three recently read sentences are:

"Hanumarathnam opens the doors from the main hall to the pantry, from the pantry to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the back courtyard, where an extended family of monkeys screeches and leaps at his appearance. Hanumarathnam screeches and leaps back into the house. The monkeys have been eating from the fruit trees in the garden: the courtyard stinks of rotting fruit, including half­eaten mangoes and overripe bananas evidently used as missiles in monkey food fights."

From my current WIP, a dark fantasy, Keeper 2, two recently written draft sentences are:

“He felt compelled to ease her fears, if only for a moment, and reached to the image in the water where he barely touched the woman’s cheek. Salathiel drew his fingertips carefully on top of the water to avoid making ripples, yet caught a strand of her long red-golden hair, lifting it momentarily from the water.”

For other participants please visit Women of Mystery.

Tuesday Fishing - Lake Ontario

For the fishing enthusiast who dreams of catching that 'big one' there are charter trips which can be arranged for fishing in Lake Ontario. Or, for the person who likes to have their own boat they might choose one like this:


There is that intoxicating thrill when the line tightens...the fight between man and fish begins...

[2-King Salmon -click to enlarge]

...with the earned result...

[3-King Salmon catch]

Photo Credits; [1][2][3]-Oplotnik CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Monday 22 June 2009

My Town Monday - Conditions in the West in 1872

In July 1874, Samuel Steele began his trip west in service with the North West Mounted Police with the rank of sergeant-major from Manitoba. The NWMP was formed due to the state of lawlessness that pervaded from the territories of the United States to the south into the North-West Territories of the Dominion of Canada (recently acquired from the Hudson’s Bay Company). Large numbers of reckless men made their way north and did what they pleased. No restraint had been made against them with the result the Indians were in possession of weapons and “fire water” in exchange for buffalo hides and furs. The interlopers from the south moved into Canada setting up stockades as protection from the Indians.

Although the Indians’ numbers had been reduced from the effects of smallpox, they were still powerful and capable of inciting wars.

The province of Manitoba in 1873 was small, not extending more than 100 miles west of Winnipeg. The land west into the North West Territories did not have any justice of the peace. Any travel across the prairies was fraught with danger.

[Fort Edmonton c. 1856 by Paul Kane]

Close to Edmonton and the east slope of the Rocky Mountains the Indians were friendly. The Rev. George McDougall, a Methodist minister, had established a mission in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Any person traveling from the Calgary area through the country now occupied by Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, and across southern Saskatchewan needed an escort of armed men.

Prior to the formation of the NWMP the Hudson’s Bay Company posts had difficulty maintaining their trading posts south of the Red Deer River. There was continuous warfare between the tribes, enhanced by the abundance of whisky brought in by traders south of the Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers. When the Indians burnt down the Old Bow Fort on the Bow River, the Hudson’s Bay Company built Mountain Fort (Rocky Mountain House) to pacify the Blackfeet who were determined to keep white and red intruders off their hunting grounds. Whenever the natives met at Fort Edmonton for trade, the Crees and Blackfeet would fight, causing the occupants of the fort to close the gates until the fight was over. There were many massacres at Forts Carlton, Pitt, Edmonton, and Mountain. Any Indian who boasted of his ability to take horses and scalps was considered virtuous by members of his tribe. Wherever there was plentiful hunting, the Indians would massacre any intruder found in those locations. The Metis hunters and others of the Red River settlement never ventured west of Moose Jaw, except in well-organized armed bands.

One of the stockade posts in the west (southern Alberta) was Fort Hamilton or more commonly known as “Fort Whoop-Up” at the fork of the Belly and St. Mary’s rivers. It was well fortified with braced heavy logs with log partitions, heavy log roofs, iron bars across chimneys to prevent Indians’ access, a thick gate of oak with a small opening to trade through. Inside, the trader stood at the wicket with a tubful of whiskey next to him, and when an Indian pushed in a buffalo robe to him, he would hand out a tin cupful of the ‘whiskey’. A quart bought a horse. When spring arrived, wagonloads of the hides and furs were escorted to Fort Benton, Montana, about 200 miles south.

'Whiskey' and 'firewater' are terms to be used loosely as it was made up of the following ingredients: alcohol spiked with ginger, molasses, red pepper, coloured with black chewing tobacco, watered down and boiled.

Photos of Fort Whoop-Up here.


Part 1

Forty Years In Canada by Col. Samuel B. Steele, 1915, Herbert Jenkins Limited

Photos: wikipedia

Travis Erwin from Amarillo, Texas is the founder of My Town Monday. For other locations to visit please go to Travis' site here.

Saturday 20 June 2009

Sea Sick: The Global Ocean In Crisis by Alanna Mitchell (Book Review)

“Sea Sick is the first book to examine the current state of the world’s oceans — the great unexamined ecological crisis of the planet — and the fact that we are altering everything about them; temperature, salinity, acidity, ice cover, volume, circulation, and, of course, the life within them.

Alanna Mitchell joins the crews of leading scientists in nine of the global ocean’s hotspots to see firsthand what is really happening around the world. Whether it’s the impact of coral reef bleaching, the puzzle of the oxygen-less dead zones such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico, or the shocking implications of the changing Ph balance of the sea, Mitchell explains the science behind the story to create an engaging, accessible yet authoritative account.”

This is a serious book about the effects humans have made upon the ocean. Early in the book Ms Mitchell described a conversation with Tim Flannery in Whyalla, South Australia, wherein he related the ocean contained the switch of life. The switch can be turned off, and life as we know it will die. Humans will then be forced to adapt to a new way of life.

In a middle chapter, Ms Mitchell related information obtained from marine biologists at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia about the collapse of arctic cod due to over fishing. Their study revealed that populations of the larger predator fish in the ocean have decreased by 90% in five decades since modern industrial fishing became popular. Those predator fish presently in the ocean are smaller than their earlier representatives.

As humans are a part of nature they need to take a serious and thoughtful look at the oceans, which provide most of the air humans breathe. Reading this book will help you become more aware of the path we have set ourselves upon: one of no return unless we do something to change the direction. The first step is for each human to make a concerted effort in their own life to change, and then to get others involved.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in science, life in the depths of the oceans and our part.

Format: Hardcover, 240 pages.
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Published: March 3, 2009.

Alanna Mitchell was the science and environment reporter at the Globe and Mail for fourteen years, until she left daily journalism to devote herself to writing on science. In 2000, she was named the best environmental reporter in the world by the Reuters Foundation and was invited in 2002 to undertake a guest fellowship at Oxford University. Out of this came her first book, Dancing at the Dead Sea, published in 2004. Mitchell is an associate at the International Institute for Sustainable Development and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer on environmental issues. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

Friday 19 June 2009

Bench of the Week (9)

This different sort of bench, but well suited to its purpose, is located at Grose Morne Provincial Park in Newfoundland.

RuneE of Visual Norway began an informal meme for posting benches on Friday. He has another spectacular bench this week.
Phoenix of Sylvan Muse has her bench up in a lovely garden.
Gerald from Ackworth Born, Gone West has a perfect bench to catch the action.
PERBS has a cute bench today.
Pacey from Today's Blah... has a unique bench with a perfect seat.

Photo Credit: mooste CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Hiking Trails - Sawback Trail - Day 5

[44-Helena Ridge at Lake Luellen - click to enlarge]

The Sawback Trail follows the rugged Sawback Range from the town of Banff to Lake Louise over a distance of 74km (about 45 miles). There are side trails to be discovered which would increase the distance.

On Day 5 the hike covers a distance of about 6 km after leaving Luellen Lake Campground at the km mark (Jo19 on ParksCanada map) to Badger Pass Junction campground. Before leaving the lake it is a good idea to fill up the water bottles. The Luellen Lake Campground is 1.0km from the trail junction.

Once at the Luellen Lake trail junction, approximately the 39km mark, the trail crosses to the east side of Johnston Creek. There the meadows are filled with willows and views of the Sawback Range to the east.

[45-Hiking in brush]

The walk to Badger Pass Junction (2,025m) is an easy 5km walk to a culminated distance of about 43.5 km.

The campground known as Jo29 with ParksCanada is another 500m up the trail. This is an ideal stopping place if heading to Badger Pass and the Bonnet Glacier. No campfires are allowed at this campsite. The campground is at the base of Pulsatilla Mountain situated in a wooded area within a large meadow. If there has been recent rain there is a likelihood of mosquito swarms.

[46 - Wolverine - click to enlarge]

One animal to make note of at this location is the wolverine, the largest member of the weasel family. They are secretive, and are known to sometimes steal food from grizzly bears. If startled or approached they can be quite nasty, far more fierce than any badger or grizzly. Wolverines are also considered an endangered animal in Canada.

[47 - Pulsatilla Mountain]

[48 - Badger Pass Junction campground in the evergreens to the left of photo]

ParksCanada – Banff
ParksCanada - Banff Hiking Trails and Maps with Campground Locations
Backcountry Overview
Trail Conditions
Backpacking Equipment Checklist
Gem Trek maps for Lake Louise and Skoki
Gem Trek maps for Banff and Mount Assiniboine
HI Hostels Intl Survival Guide

Photo Credits:
[44]-meganpru CC=nc-flickr, [45][47]-Kris Griffon CC=nc-sa-flickr, [46]-markq6 CC=flickr, [48]-lafalott CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

The Tenth Gift - Jane Johnson (Book Review)

Based on a true family tale, Jane Johnson weaves an intricate story of two women connected across the centuries. The story encompasses a blending of genres: literary mystery, historical adventure, romance and the supernatural.

The story begins with Julia Lovat meeting her lover in a London restaurant and receiving a farewell gift from him. It is a book of exquisite 17th century embroidery patterns belonging to a woman named Catherine Ann Tregenna, aka “Cat”. Later, upon closer examination, Julia finds the book contains faint diary entries in tiny handwriting. The story of Cat, an embroideress and ladies’ maid who yearns for adventure in 1625, is being forced to marry her cousin Rob whom she feels only ‘brotherly love’ for. While she is bemoaning her fate in a Cornish church, she and 60 others are taken by Barbary corsairs, and shipped to Morocco to be sold as slaves. Cat’s ability to embroider is considered a valuable commodity and coveted in the Islamic world.

There are memorable episodes on the voyage to Morocco that set the historic era: the horrific treatment of slaves in the hold, encounters with other ships, and Cat’s tending of the captain after stitching up his wound.

Suffering from her separation from her ex-lover, Julia immerses herself in the captivating story of Cat. She decides to go to North Africa to determine the authenticity of the book while picking up Cat’s tale after the slave auction where it abruptly stops. Once there, Julia finds herself experiencing the sights and sounds of the spice markets, sultry heat, ancient ruins, accompanied by a charming Moroccan guide and discovers secrets about herself and Cat.

The story moves between the centuries with ease, providing just enough information to keep the reader engaged and wanting to know what happens next. Ms Johnson wove historical fact throughout the narrative, explaining the viewpoints of two cultures: British and Moroccan in their specific timelines. She also does a deft job with the supernatural aspects.

I found it difficult to put down and found myself reading into the early hours of the morning. This is a book I would recommend to anyone looking for an engaging story.

Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Publisher: Anchor Canada
Author website: http://www.blogger.com/www.janejohnsonbooks.com
Published: May 26, 2009

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday: 16 June 2009

My current reading has been in “The Toss of a Lemon” by Padma Viswanathan a profoundly interesting book about another culture, that of Brahmin. Two recently read sentences are:

“The humble folk trip back to their relatives’, four doors down the street, for snacks and happy anticipation of their consultation with the auspicious young man, who also has some fame as an astrologer.

“At that strange hour that gives the impression of light even though each figure is masked by darkness, Sivakami’s father, with two of the male relatives, finds Hanumarathnam on his veranda.”

My own writing has been of late non-fiction in history articles, although I have managed to write a little on my current WIP Keeper 2, a dark fantasy. Three recently written draft sentences are: “Salathiel peered into the pool of clear water atop the pedestal. At first he saw nothing, then a shadowed movement formed into the image of a face. A face he had seen before, but only in his dreams.”

For other participants please visit Women of Mystery.

Tuesday Fishing

This photo is taken somewhere in Ontario where the fishing looks really good. The bend in the rod speaks for itself. (Click to enlarge photo).

Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Monday 15 June 2009

My Town Monday - Samuel B. Steele

[1 - Samuel Benfield Steele]

Samuel Benfield Steele (5 January 1849 to 30 January 1919) was a famous member of the North-West Mounted Police and in later years a distinguished soldier. (This post and the next cover only his early life in the military and the NWMP as it relates to Canada.) He was the fourth son born to Elmes and Anne Steele (2nd marriage) in Medonte Township in Upper Canada. His family had military connections and in 1866 he joined the militia at the time of the Fenian Raids.

[2-The Red River Expedition below Kakabeka Falls by Frances Anne Hopkins circa 1877]

In 1870 he participated in the Red River Expedition that had been authorized by Sir John A. MacDonald to confront Louis Riel and the M├ętis at the Red River Settlement (near current Winnipeg, Manitoba). The expedition was headed by Colonel Garnet Wolseley (later Field Marshall Viscount) when he joined them at the Sault. The military crossed through a Canadian route as the U.S. government refused them access over U.S. soil.

The troops were required to transport all their provisions, weapons including cannons over hundreds of miles of wilderness. In each of the boats the loads weighed about 4,000 pounds made up of: barrels of biscuits, flour, pork, sugar; tea chests, sacks of beans. cases of potatoes, ammunition boxes, arm chests, ball pouches, tents, soap cases, candles, boat nails, and one bottle of mosquito oil. At numerous portages special roads were required to be built with logs over muskeg (swampy areas). The one place they did not portage was the Winnipeg River, where the rapids and cataracts had to be navigated. This trip was undertaken during two months in summer heat combined with swarms of blackflies and mosquitoes.

[3- Voyageur Canoe Passing Waterfall by Frances Anne Hopkins 1869]

Steele made note in his biography of a voyageur carrying two barrels of pork and 1,000 rounds of ammunition with a combined weight of 528 pounds without showing any distress.

When the troops arrived at Fort Garry, they found Riel had abandoned it.

[4-Upper Fort Garry - early 1870s]

At that time, Winnipeg, was located half a mile north of Fort Garry with about forty houses, lining the Stone Fort trail (now the main street of Winnipeg). There were: nine stores, three chemist shops, one saddlery, one hardware store, several saloons named “Hell’s Gates”, “The Red Saloon”, etc.

[5-Three Piegan Chiefs by Edward Curtis 1900]

Shortly before Steele had arrived with the military contingent at Fort Garry, smallpox had been spreading in the far west from the Missouri River to the North Saskatchewan River. The disease had been brought into Montana by a merchant who had left a blanket on a Missouri steamboat from St. Louis, the blanket in turn being stolen by an Indian. He caught the disease and spread it through his tribe which killed them. A war party of Bloods who had gone to steal horses, found no one alive, took the horses and as many buffalo robes as they could, not realizing their mistake. The disease spread throughout all the Indian tribes: Peigans, Blackfeet, Crees and Stonies, and then to the plains hunters, the employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company and missionary families. The chiefs of the Blackfeet nation were gone, leaving few capable of leading their people. One tribe whose lodges had numbered 2,000 in their main camp, with each lodge containing eight persons, was reduced to one-tenth of its number.

For the whisky trader who had brought in the contagion to the North West Territory (as the Canadian prairies were then known), a member of the military, Lieutenant Butler, undertook the duty to prevail upon him “that British law was supreme”. Butler travelled there and back on horseback and by dog train over 2,700 miles to perform his task. [What Butler did to the whisky trader is not revealed in Steele’s narrative, though a book The Great Lone Land is mentioned.]


Wikipedia -
Forty Years In Canada by Col. Samuel B. Steele, 1915, Herbert Jenkins Limited

Photo Credits: [1][2][3][4][5]-wikipedia.

Travis Erwin from Amarillo, Texas is the founder of My Town Monday. For other locations to visit please go to Travis' site here.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Dickson Falls

This waterfall is located in Fundy National Park in New Brunswick in eastern Canada.

The trailhead to the hiking trail to Dickson Falls is located on the road to Wolfepointe with a well-marked sign. A boardwalk section starts the hike along the Dickson River with the trail moving through mixed forest and rocky areas.

For more information on Fundy National Park visit ParksCanada .

For those visitors who ask for a map of these park locations (you know who you are) a google map below will show you the way.

Photo Credit: TimDan2 CC=nc-nd-flickr, google map of Fundy National Park.

Friday 12 June 2009

Bench of the Week (8)

This bench is in Niagara, Ontario on a perfect sunny summer's day.

RuneE from Visual Norway originated Bench of the Week as an informal meme. His bench in a magnificent garden setting is up.

Other participants are:

Phoenix C. from Sylvan Muse, PERBS from The Love of Benches , Malyss, Ackworth born, gone West, Dina from Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo.

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary CC=flickr.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Hiking Trails - Sawback Trail Day 4

The Sawback Trail follows the rugged Sawback Range from the town of Banff to Lake Louise over a distance of 74km (about 45 miles). There are side trails to be discovered too which would increase the distance.

Note: some of the trails are not well marked except for the main trail and the horse trail. It is recommended that hikers carry a compass and obtain the relevant maps for the areas they will be hiking in from Gem Trek . Topographic maps: 82 O/4, 82 O/5. An excellent preview map from ParksCanada on Banff National Park's backcountry trails, campsites including information on the different users of the trails can be seen here. It will help in planning your outdoor excursions.

Maximum elevation: 2345m (7700 ft)
Minimum elevation: 1615m (5300 ft)

[36- Larry's Campground sign]

Larry's Camp (Jo9) is located in the trees as pictured above next to Johnson Creek. There are several fire pits near the creek.

On Day 4 the hike covers a distance of about 10km after leaving Larry’s Campground at the 29.3km mark (Jo9 on ParksCanada map) to Luellen Lake. The trail is a relatively slow climb in the forest along Johnston Creek.

[37- Block mountain]

At the 33km mark the trail passes the Johnston Creek warden cabin.

[38- Warden cabins]

At 37.9km the trail branches left and crosses over the Johnston Creek bridge to the west bank and campground.

[39- Young black bear - click to enlarge]

[40- Clark's Nutcracker]

This bird is often seen around camp sites and picnic areas where it scavenges for scraps of food. Though its main food source is pine nuts.

At the 38km mark the hiker will arrive at the junction with the Luellen Lake Trail, where anglers can fish. Although the lake has not been stocked with fish for years, there are still enough for anglers and osprey.

[41- Lake Luellen with Helena Ridge behind]

The Luellen Lake campground (Jo19-ParksCanada) is another 1.0km.

[42 -Osprey above]

They build their nests in a tall tree or on a rock pinnacle located near water, often returning to the same nest each year.

[43- Luellen Lake - click to enlarge. The mountain to the left is Helena Ridge that backs onto the rear of Castle Mountain.]

Luellen Lake is long and narrow in a forest of englemann spruce and alpine fir at an elevation of 1,985m.

ParksCanada – Banff
ParksCanada Backcountry Overview
ParksCanada Trail Conditions
ParksCanada Backpacking Equipment Checklist
Gem Trek maps for Lake Louise and Skoki
Gem Trek maps for Banff and Mount Assiniboine
HI Hostels Intl Survival Guide
A Field Guide to Birds of North America, Michael Vanner, 2006, p. 73, 169.

Photo Credits: [36][38]-Shane Huang CC=nc-sa-flickr, [37]-Kris Griffon CC=nc-sa-flickr, [39]-Kasey Kasey CC=nc-sa-flickr, [40][42] Chris & Lara Pawluk CC=nc-flickr, [41]-meganpru CC=nc-flickr, [43]-lafalott CC=nc-sa-flickr.